President Joe Biden is likely to issue a directive on the US' intent to join the COVAX facility, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at the World Health Organization (WHO) executive board meeting on Thursday. He said he still expects most Americans to be vaccinated by the middle of the year.
"I can tell you I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president, so it was really something that you didn't feel you could actually say something and there wouldn't be any repercussions about it", continued Fauci.
"Thus, far, it does not appear at all that the South African strain is in the United States".
© Provided by CBS News Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a news conference at the White House on Thursday, January 21, 2021. The former president also refused to join the COVAX project.
"The best-case scenario for me would be getting 85% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summer".
"Bottom line: we're paying very close attention to it for our alternative plans if we have to ever modify the vaccine", he said.
He added that Biden is deploying the Defense Production Act to help vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc, scale their production.
The Trump administration had invoked the law, which grants the president broad authority to "expedite and expand the supply of resources from the USA industrial base" for protective gear, but never enacted it for testing or vaccine production.
Fauci also said the US will join the global COVAX initiative, which is meant to distribute COVID-19 vaccines and therapies to low-income countries.
Biden's plan starts with a national vaccination campaign in order to meet the President's goal of administering 100 million shots, which is enough to cover 50 million Americans with vaccines that require two doses, in his first 100 days in office.
Biden on Wednesday reversed the withdrawal decision made by his predecessor Donald Trump. His plan aims to increase vaccinations by opening up eligibility for more people such as teachers and grocery clerks.
"WHO is a family of nations and we are all glad that the U.S.is staying in the family", Tedros said.
Biden has put fighting the disease at the top of a daunting list of challenges, including rebuilding a ravaged economy and addressing racial injustice, and has proposed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 package that would enhance jobless benefits and provide direct cash payments to households to alleviate the financial pain from the coronavirus.